By Jeff Bahr
The tanning salon where Nutley’s infamous “tanning mom” Patricia Krentcil got her bronze on has been penalized for numerous violations cited by the state Department of Health. City Tropics Tanning 2, located on Centre Street, has been ordered to pay $5,200 in fi nes for alleged infractions that include overexposure, failure to use clean towels to wipe down equipment, and failure to provide staff training information.
Salon owner Anthony Ruccatano, who also owns another salon in North Arlington, said that he believes he is being treated unfairly primarily because of his salon’s connection with Krentcil. He also claims that he’s been misquoted about his intentions regarding the fines. “The AP (Associated Press) said that I was taking the state to court,” Ruccatano said. “That’s ridiculous. Who takes the state to court? All I have to do is request a hearing. I was advised to do that by the state.”
“I feel that they (the state) just had to do something because of this woman (Krentcil),” Ruccatano continued. “In one of our violations, they (state inspectors) said the font wasn’t big enough in one of the warning signs that we have. We just printed an eight-and-one-half-by-eleven sheet like anyone else does, put it in a frame, and they said the font was off like a millimeter or whatever. Nonsense.”
“One of the other violations was that we use the same towel to clean the beds, over and over,” Ruccatano said. “The guy asked why we don’t use disposable towels. I don’t know anybody that does that. We have a (cloth) towel for the customer that’s folded a certain way, very plush-like. Then we have towels to clean the beds that are folded over once, and we have a table that they’re on, so when the girl goes to get the cleaner she grabs that towel and comes in. And then she goes out and throws it in a hamper.
“The girl told the guy (the inspector), ‘These are our towels here, we clean our own towels; we have a washer and dryer on premises.’ He goes, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’ We do five or six loads of laundry a day. … He was under the (incorrect) assumption that we just use one towel all day to clean the beds. … That was the (reported) violation that upset me the most. Customers actually see us cleaning the beds. We clean 300 to 400 towels a day. The girls are constantly doing the laundry.”
“When they (the inspectors) were talking about a customer who was over-tanned, they never said who it was. I’m assuming they’re talking about Patricia Krentcil,” said Ruccatano. “If you do your homework, she hasn’t tanned since April 22. If you look at her mug shot on the 24th, she looks just tan, not overly tan. Then you look at her on the news toward the end of April, she was so dark and everybody followed her everywhere, she didn’t tan anywhere. You can’t get darker (without tanning). That’s the stuff the bodybuilders put on (instant tanning ointment). She must have figured she was going on TV. She wants to look like a model or something.”
The state Department of Health maintains that the inspection was performed as a result of news coverage surrounding the Krentcil case, but wouldn’t say whether or not Krentcil was the overtanned customer in question.
Ruccatano also takes exception to the assertion that Krentcil’s daughter received a leg burn from tanning in one of his beds. “I’ve talked to probably 150 people from the media,” said Ruccatano. There isn’t one person from the media, the news, who believes that the little girl went in the tanning booth. Not one.”
With that, Ruccatano gave his take on the alleged incident which has caused him and his business so much grief. “A teacher in the school (supposedly) overheard her little daughter talking to a boy in the schoolyard. And the boy said, ‘where did you get the sunburn on your leg?’ And she said, ‘I got sunburned tanning with mommy in the tanning salon.’ Now, you’re telling me two six-year-olds are talking in the schoolyard like that? I mean, they’re talking about SpongeBob; they’re not talking about this. A little boy doesn’t even know what sunburn is. That’s the last thing on his mind.”